Bonham’s Offers Complete Bert Stren Set Of Monroe Prints –
Bert Stern may not have been the first photographer to capture Marilyn Monroe, but he was definitely the last to secure a professional session with the screen icon. In July 1962, the young Bert Stern was given access to three sittings in order to capture a relaxed portrait of the playful and seductive, actress. Just a few weeks later she would tragically die. What had begun as an eight-page spread for Vogue Magazine became an epitaph, and has entered the photographic archives as Marilyn’s Last Sitting.
In the months before her death in August 1962 Monroe attended President John F Kennedy’s birthday party, where she famously sang ‘happy birthday Mr. President’. Following the Madison Square Garden appearence, she was fired from the set of the film Something’s Got to Give, because of her poor attendance record. It was at this point she needed a high profile publicity stunt. The Vogue shoot with Bert Stern was part of this damage limitation exercise . Monroe was found dead in her bed in California in August 1962. The cause of death was recorded as ‘acute barbiturate poisoning’, resulting from a ‘probable suicide’.
It is rare to find a complete set of Monroe prints as contained in this portfolio. Other sets have been broken up and sold individually. Judith Eurich, from Bonhams, the sale room offering the prints, said: ‘This is a very popular set. It is unusual to find a whole set and the owner has had them since they were printed. Because these have been displayed for many years, the colour has ‘faded’ slightly, but even so the set is estimated to achieve more than £15,000.
The auction takes place at Bonham’s in New York on May 8.